LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — City leaders stand divided over a no-confidence resolution in Little Rock’s Police Chief, but they agree the way that resolution was handled at the Board of Directors Tuesday meeting was inappropriate.
The resolution was proposed by Director Lance Hines last month.
Hines first told us in a Working 4 You story in May, that he had no confidence in Police Chief Keith Humphrey.
In the resolution Hines lists growing concerns with the Chief over the past year. That includes allegations that the Chief sexually harassed and retaliated against employees. The Chief faces 5 lawsuits filed by current and former employees. The Chief also filed a civil rights lawsuit against several city employees.
Hines never talked about his reasons for the resolution during the meeting, instead he made a motion to recess the rest of the meeting until December 29.
That move came after City Attorney Tom Carpenter sent an email to Hines earlier Tuesday, questioning if the board could face legal issues and asking for more time to review the resolution.
Mayor Frank Scott Junior called the resolution “inappropriate” and made it clear he believed the board had no place voting on a resolution involving the Chief. The Mayor tried to ignore Hines’ motion, which led to the two speaking over each other and claiming the other was at fault.
We talked to two city directors who both agree, that was out of line.
“I think it looked bad for city government as a whole,” said Vice-Mayor Brenda Wyrick. “I’ve not seen that kind of discourse from city leaders in a board meeting. The decorum was so bad.”
“It’s a circus and I think it’s really unfortunate our city is going through this,” said Director Ken Richardson. “We truly didn’t come across as a functional board last night and I think for the most part, that came from people trying to prove their respective cases.”
Tension at the meeting only grew after the Mayor chose to allow public comment on the resolution. Several people who spoke in support of the Chief claimed the resolution was racially motivated.
“It seemed to be an orchestrated experience to have all of the individuals there in support of Chief Humphrey,” Wyrick said. “From what I hear in the community, we could have had that number and more that really have concerns with his management style, how he’s treating the police officers, and his general behavior. “
Meanwhile Richardson says it dredged up underlying divisions in the city that need to be addressed.
“I think we haven’t had in my opinion a real, real honest assessment, in my opinion, of the racial divide in this community,” Richardson said.
Richardson has been outspoken against the resolution, saying it’s an overreach by the board since only the Mayor fire the Police Chief.
“There was a lot of confusion and I think that confusion emanated from the fact that we should not have been there talking about it at all,” he explained.
Wyrick said she plans to vote for the resolution and calls it a way the board can show the Mayor they want him to take action.
“If those types of situations were coming up for any individual there would be concerns,” Wyrick said.
Both Richardson and Wyrick agree history can’t repeat itself in two weeks when the resolution is back on the board’s agenda.
“You can’t stay on your side and you stay on your side and expect any resolution,” Richardson said.
“You get on the board to help people and serve people,” said Wyrick. “You don’t get on the board to raise a ruckus.”
The city attorney is now reviewing the resolution.
The Mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Director Hines said he won’t comment until he hears the city attorney’s final word on the resolution, but he did add he’s concerned public comment was allowed.